Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Bucket showers suck, Beaufort beer rocks

I loaded some photos of my trip to Togo on Flickr, and you can view the slideshow if you’re interested.

I’ve been back in the States for four days, and still a bit disoriented. What I’m realizing most is that I adjusted very quickly to being in Africa–the bucket showers (always cold water), the crowded vans, the lack of variety in the food (God help me if I eat another yam); what is surprising is my slow acclimation back in the States. We have so many things! American roads don’t have potholes (well, they’re a rarity, and they’re sure to be fixed)! We are so very privileged, and I’m still in shock when I drive my little Mini Cooper to notice how spacious and developed the urban landscape of Boston seems.

It’s a bit of a cliche, but I think you live closer to the Earth in Ghana or Togo. Using a latrine, without a flushing toilet, you can’t avoid the fact that you’re shitting in a hole in the ground. And when you forget to bring toilet paper, you’re really reminded how we take for granted clean restrooms everywhere in the States.

Also, I ate a lot–A LOT–of street food in Togo. I was never worried about getting sick; in fact, the food was more fresh and tasty. If I ate a kebab from a woman grilling it over an oil can in Badou, I knew that the beef was likely killed that morning, that any of the chickens running around the streets would soon be in my stomach, and that the food I ate didn’t magically appear in my deli case, wrapped in plastic and butchered so that the ugly parts of the chicken were out of sight.


Filed under: Uncategorized,

5 weeks in Africa comes to an end

So I’m using the last of my Internet minutes in Accra, back from a couple weeks bumming around Togo with JT.

JT with Togolese friends

JT with Togolese friends

Here’s JT himself with the chef and owner of Mamie’s, a little bed and breakfast in Lome, where all the new Peace Corps volunteers stay. Mamie has an interesting story, as she moved to Lome many years ago and opened her guesthouse originally as a brothel. The girls’ names are still on the guests’ doors.

Highlights of Togo (I’ll upload photos later): Visiting the Ta Tas in northern Togo; talking life at the 60-foot, spectacular waterfall in Badou; making fufu on Kosi’s farm outside Kadaousu; drinking Roquefort 6.9 (second only to Castle Milk Stout); watching a goat being slaughtered outside JT’s screen door as we played Phase 10; seeing the glowing, unreal sun set over the soccer field; hanging out with Kosi’s girls at the farm; eating brochettes and Fan Ice.

Outside the Parliament in Lome (where the gendarme yelled at me for taking a pic)

Outside the Parliament in Lome (where the gendarme yelled at me for taking a pic)

Hellish parts of Togo: traveling by bush taxi; getting a 12-hour virus; and bearing the insufferable heat. Also, trying to convert thousands of CIFA, the Togolese currency, in my head every time I wanted to buy something.

The most surprising (pleasantly) part was finding that Togo is so different from its neighbor, Ghana, and getting to experience it in a less structured way than my travels with the B.C. undergrads through Ghana. I wouldn’t trade either experience in retrospect.

Filed under: Uncategorized,

Last day in Ejisu; Futbol in Accra

The service group rode a bus from Ejisu, where we ended our computer camp for 4-6 graders, to the capital of Ghana, Accra, yesterday. I’m in an Internet Cafe with my friend J.T. and we’re here in the capital for a day or two while I go through the bureaucracy of getting a visa to Togo. I’m such a slacker and should have taken care of this visa stuff before I left the States, but as a Ghanian might say, “Such is Life,” and shrug their shoulders.

The BC students boarded a plane this morning at 5:00 a.m. Sad morning. Our last reflection last night was centered more on what we learned from the children of Ejisu rather than the ways that we as Westerners helped. Nice to hear such maturity from all the crew: Jodi-Ann, Pat, Itunu, Mark, Geraldine (not Genevieve!), Jessica, Sandy, Lindsey, Steffany, Kaysha, Chen Chen and Ben. Kudos and eternal Medasi’s to Kwasi and Kwame, our Ghanian hosts, who are forever humble and gracious.

Futbol (not football) is huge here, and we’re hoping to get tickets to a game. Reminds me of a modern day-version of Hemingway and his narrator’s exploits as a young ex-pat in The Sun Also Rises, during the first part when he and his friends attempt to experience Spain through a bullfight. Futbol may be the closest thing to a true cultural experience in 2008 Ghana, the crowds, the energy, the coming together. Or maybe I’m just romaticizing it.

JT wants us to travel up north to Togo to visit several old slave fortresses and maybe even an excursion to Benin or Burkina Faso. Travel is so lengthy here–it can take a day just to travel a few hours, and the roads are dusty and cramped with people’s belongings (live chickens, packaged goods, etc) that getting anywhere really wears you out.

More posts to come.

Filed under: Uncategorized

An Asante ritual for young women

So I’m in Kumasi at an Internet Cafe where I paid 80 pesewas (about .80 cents) to connect to the Internet for an hour. I’m trying not to do “official” work, but I guess it’s inevitable. Also taking a couple minutes to jot down a brief impression of Ghana so far.

Today was a meeting the Queen of Onwe village. One of my students in the adult computer class that I teach is royalty of the Asante tribe. He brought me via tro tro to his village, about a 15-minute walk and a 15-minute tro tro ride from our classroom. His grandmother is the queen of the village, and spoke to us in Twe, the language of the Asante people, and my student translated. An interesting ritual was also explained, about the coming of age ritual of a young girl in which she is sheltered for three months, brought to the river to bathe, and then literally courted by all the young men in the village. Will post images and more thoughts later…

Filed under: Uncategorized



» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
August 2008
« Jul   Sep »


Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Visitor Map

Locations of Site Visitors

RSS Recent Posts from Towleroad

  • Dozens of Graduates and Faculty Walk Out on Mike Pence Commencement Address: WATCH
    Vice President Mike Pence gave the commencement address at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana on Saturday, but dozens of faculty and grads weren’t having it. Thousands had signed online petitions asking the school to reconsider Pence as commencement speaker. WTHR reports: “Moments before Pence was introduced, dozens of graduates and faculty stood up and qu […]
  • Transgender Woman Attacked in Viral Video Last Month is Fatally Shot in Dallas
    Muhlaysia Booker, the 23-year-old transgender woman who was brutally beaten last month in a video that went viral, was found shot to death over the weekend. The NYT reports: ‘At a news conference, Maj. Vincent Weddington said that officers found Ms. Booker shortly before 7 a.m. on Saturday, and that her identity was confirmed on Sunday. They […] The post Tra […]
  • Pete Buttigieg Calls Out Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham at FOX News Town Hall: WATCH
    On tonight’s FOX News town hall Mayor Pete Buttigieg called out Tucker Carlson for calling immigrants “dirty” and Laura Ingraham for calling child detention centers “summer camps.” Said Buttigieg: “A lot of folks in my party were critical of me even doing this with FOX News, and I get where that’s coming from, especially when […] The post Pete Buttigieg Call […]
  • Paul Rudd and Beck Bennett Play Pete and Chasten Buttigieg on SNL’s ‘The View’ — WATCH
    SNL took on The View with a guest appearance by South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, played by Paul Rudd. “I’m ready to work,” said Rudd, arriving on the set in Mayor Pete’s trademark rolled-up shirtsleeves and tie. “See my exposed forearms?” Added Rudd: “I may only be 37 years old but I do feel like […] The post Paul Rudd and Beck Bennett Play Pete and Chasten […]
  • Alec Baldwin’s Trump and Allies Sing ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ on SNL’s Season Finale: WATCH
    Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump returned to Saturday Night Live for the show’s season finale. “I’m very excited to summer. Getting around to those things I never have time for. Golf, visiting friends in prison and enjoying all the fantastic new tariffs from China.” ALSO ON SNL: Paul Rudd and Beck Bennett Play Pete and Chasten […] The post Alec Baldwin’s Trump an […]


RSS Breaking News from The Daily Beast

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Pics from Africa 2010

About Me


About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

Top Clicks

  • None